Beware festive fraudsters

Conmen looking to ruin Christmas

With the festive season in full swing, it appears the feeling of goodwill is lacking in some.

The public are advised to be on high alert against possible conmen, with fraudsters known to increase their devious doings over the Christmas holidays.

In a recent interview with Voice Money, Head of Investigations and Fraud Risk at Stanbic Bank, Bickie Mbenge revealed the bank has received several reports of people being conned out of money through bogus ‘invites for quotation’.

“The trend we see is that small businesses lose money through request for quotation. One will be having a company through which they supply government, but out of nowhere they receive an email saying, ‘request for quotation’.

“The majority of the customers have been sent an email saying request for quotation for a Multi-Gas High Energy Retention Gas Detector (XMS-808),” explained the fraud investigator, adding that most customers interpret this as breathalyzers used at the mines.

Mbenge stressed customers should immediately realise something is wrong when they see the supposed quote is sent by the Ministry of Finance, which is not the correct ministry for such a tender.

“The customer will get the request, and at the same time, maybe some minutes later, another email comes in saying the ministry has written to us informing us you sent a quotation, and we are the suppliers of the equipment needed,” he said.

From here, Mbenge says customers will now follow the email from the bogus supplier and eventually end up agreeing on payments and arrival dates of the goods.

According to Mbenge, the minimum usually demanded by these ‘suppliers’ is nothing less than P100, 000.

“Once you have made payment and sent them proof, they buy time waiting to be credited. Once that happens, they cut contact with you. Sometimes, if there was a website before you will realise that even it has vanished!” he warned.

The Investigator says Stanbic have received such reports from four clients, but adds it is a trend the whole industry is experiencing.

However, Mbenge noted the main problem is that customers never take the time to complete a thorough verification, even if there are red flags.

“If you look closely at these emails’ addresses that supposedly belong to the Ministries, if you put a cursor on top of them, you will realise there is another email address underneath,” Mbenge told Voice Money.

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